Alberta scientists mark Canada's birthday in a really, really small way
'It's super cool and super Canadian and demonstrates our strength and skill in this niche of nanotechnology'
Scientists at the University of Alberta are celebrating Canada's 150th birthday on a nanoscale.
They believe they have created the world's smallest sculpture of a maple leaf, measuring just 10 nanometres across.
That's 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and 100 times smaller than the world's smallest national flag, created by researchers at the University of Waterloo last year.
The leaf is only visible with a million-dollar piece of equipment called a scanning tunnelling microscope.
- Go small or go home: U of A researchers develop tiniest-ever Oilers logo
- The Nano Revolution: More than Human
The Alberta researchers describe the silicon crystal wafer on which the leaf is built as bubble wrap where the bubbles are hydrogen atoms that can be popped to create patterns.
It's a technique that's being used to create and study circuitry to make smaller and faster computer components.
"It's super cool and super Canadian and demonstrates our strength and skill in this niche of nanotechnology," PhD student Roshan Achal said in a news release. "Almost no one else in the world can do it this well."
- Liftoff: University of Alberta satellite rockets into orbit
- Nanotech 'slingshot' shoots drugs right where they're needed
For the record, the world's largest maple leaf was found by a family in Richmond, B.C., in 2010, measuring 53 centimetres wide by 52.2 centimetres long. Others have claimed to have found bigger leaves, but those weren't verified by Guinness.
The leaf created at the University of Alberta is 53 million times smaller than that.
Scientists at the Edmonton school have a history of creating really small things.
During the Edmonton Oilers recent playoff run, they created what they said was the world's smallest Oilers logo at 2.4 microns in diameter.
That's smaller than the width of a human hair and so teeny that 900 million of the logos could fit on the top of a puck.